KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Shareholders of regional airline LIAT meet in Barbados on Tuesday as chairman Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said he was “concerned” about how on-going industrial relations are being handled.
“I have a sense that somewhere the industrial relations issues are not being handled as adroitly, as adeptly, as they should be handled,” Gonsalves told reporters on Monday.
“I see the one in Barbados, I see the one in Grenada. I see the one with pilots. It may well be that the management is correcting each case. But if the management is correcting each case, why are the people who are involved — other than the management — in each case feel wronged? So that worries me,” Gonsalves added.
LIAT employees in Grenada earlier this month ended a crippling 11-day strike even as their bargaining agent warned that the “war is not over” with the Antigua-based airline.
The workers, who were owed EC$6 million in outstanding arrears dating back to 1983, agreed to accept EC$500,000 with the outstanding matters to be dealt with during arbitration.
The strike took place even as the airline was trying to resolve pilots’ concerns and just before threats of industrial action in Barbados.
Gonsalves said that he was not saying that LIAT management “is making errors”.
“… as a mature person and a persons involved in the management and leadership of a country, … when I see the series of things, it suggests to me that maybe something should be done better even though they are not done wrongly ….” He explained.
He further said that he was not castigating the management of the airline.
“I have spoken with the requisite subtlety. And you know if I am going to castigate anybody I will so openly. And I have very high regard for the management of LIAT …” Gonsalves said.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Air Transportation, Godfred Pompey will also attend the meeting in Bridgetown.
Gonsalves said the meeting would discuss reports from the chair and the chief executive officer and “some of the on-going challenges which we are facing with LIAT”.
He mentioned competition, financing, fleet renewal and fleet expansion.
Meanwhile, Gonsalves said that he is not “not afraid” of fair competition against LIAT and that REDjet has not applied to fly to St. Vincent.
He explained that because of wind, REDjet aircrafts are too large to take off southerly at E.T. Joshua Airport with more than 60 per cent of their passenger capacity.
Taking off northerly from the airport is not permitted for passenger aircrafts.